Sidney Sheldon was one of the best fiction writers of all time. He began his career, writing scripts for Broadway plays and rapidly conquered motion pictures and the television. Sheldon published 18 novels, often featuring strong women who persisted in a world run by men, retaining their most powerful attribute – their femininity.


β€œIf you would seek to find yourself

Look not in a mirror

For there is but a shadow there,

A stranger…”

– Silenius, Odes to Truth

Stranger in the Mirror, a work of fiction published in 1976, revolves around two Hollywood stars, Toby Temple and Jill Castle, and their rags-to-riches story as they maneuver through the tumultuous tides of the world of showbiz, not to mention their own minds.

Only in this life you made your own miracles, because God was busy elsewhere. ~ Sidney Sheldon

Based in the early twentieth century, the book skillfully takes the reader through the lives of these stars. Toby Temple struggles for years to get to the top of the ladder, soon becoming the world’s best comedian. Jill Castle, on the other hand, does not have it so easy. Never given a chance to prove her talent, she is forced to play insignificant parts and repeatedly finds herself on the casting couch, with no chance of becoming a real actress.

The book is an ingenious narrative about two individuals looking for a place where they belong in the limited spotlights of Hollywood. It delves deep into the backstage of all the glitz and glamor where the author himself began his career. Β The story unveils the entire spectrum of the industry, from the Survivors who never give up in the hope that their big break is just around the corner, to the ringmasters of the show, the producers and actors who seem to wield all the power. The author cleverly and accurately reveals the countless facets of human nature, profoundly exploring love, lust, vengeance, betrayal and utter willpower.

Sidney Sheldon primarily depends on his ability to build suspense. He keeps the reader hanging at the end of the chapter, just hinting at a twist, making it almost impossible to put the book down. That and his fast paced style of writing keep the reader engrossed throughout the 348 pages of this fabulous work of art.

When the two protagonists finally cross paths, they know that they are destined to be together – Toby, to fulfill the lack of love in his life and Jill, as an opportunity to finally get back at everyone who kept her from becoming an actress and as a highway to stardom. Toby immediately falls helplessly in love with her and for the rest of the world, it is a match made in heaven. Overnight, Toby and Jill become the king and queen of Hollywood.

It is surprising and heart-rending to witness up to what extent a person can go, out of sheer love, hatred, fear and envy. The brilliantly woven characters strike a chord with the reader and never fail to amaze. Yet their actions leave one in a state of shock, only to be plunged back into a deeper suspense within the next few pages. The book is a roller coaster of emotions, leaving the reader both speechless and astonished, though, it must be said, deeply satisfied at the end of it all.

Like all other Sidney Sheldon novels, this one too is sold covered in an imaginary layer of superglue, captivating and enrapturing to the very last page. A perfect, intricate web of the working of a mind and a graceful presentation of the numerous nuances of the fascinating drama empire, this piece of art is a picture painted too vividly to forget.

In Sheldon’s own words:

For talent was like a frail flower growing under solid rock. In the end, nothing could stop it from bursting through and blooming.


Ameya Rating:

A suitably titled novel, Stranger in the Mirror offers an intriguing plot, gripping and life-like characters along with a marvelous portrayal of the Hollywood dream and nightmare, which surely make it a thrilling and worthwhile read.

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